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Lactobacillus is a genus of Gram-positive, aerotolerant anaerobes or microaerophilic, rod-shaped, non-spore-forming bacteria. Until March 2020, the genus Lactobacillus comprised over 260 phylogenetically, ecologically, and metabolically diverse species; a taxonomic revision of the genus in 2020 assigned lactobacilli to 25 genera (see § Taxonomy below).
Lactobacillus species constitute a significant component of the human and animal microbiota at a number of body sites, such as the digestive system, and the female genital system. In women of European ancestry, Lactobacillus species are normally a major part of the vaginal microbiota. Lactobacillus forms biofilms in the vaginal and gut microbiota, allowing them to persist during harsh environmental conditions and maintain ample populations. Lactobacillus exhibits a mutualistic relationship with the human body, as it protects the host against potential invasions by pathogens, and in turn, the host provides a source of nutrients. Lactobacilli are among the most common probiotic found in food such as yogurt, and it is diverse in its application to maintain human well-being, as it can help treat diarrhea, vaginal infections, and skin disorders such as eczema.
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Lactobacilli are homofermentative, i.e. hexoses are metabolised by glycolysis to lactate as major end product, or heterofermentative, i.e. hexoses are metabolised by the Phosphoketolase pathway to lactate, CO2 and acetate or ethanol as major end products. Most lactobacilli are aerotolerant and some species respire if heme and menaquinone are present in the growth medium. Aerotolerance of lactobacilli is manganese-dependent and has been explored (and explained) in Lactiplantibacillus plantarum (previously Lactobacillus plantarum). Lactobacilli generally do not require iron for growth.
The Lactobacillaceae are the only family of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that includes homofermentative and heterofermentative organisms; in the Lactobacillaceae, homofermentative or heterofermentative metabolism is shared by all strains of a genus. Lactobacillus species are all homofermentative, do not express pyruvate formate lyase, and most species do not ferment pentoses. In L. crispatus, pentose metabolism is strain specific and acquired by lateral gene transfer.
The genomes of lactobacilli are highly variable, ranging in size from 1.2 to 4.9 Mb (megabases). Accordingly, the number of protein-coding genes ranges from 1,267 to about 4,758 genes (in Fructilactobacillus sanfranciscensis and Lentilactobacillus parakefiri, respectively). Even within a single species there can be substantial variation. For instance, strains of L. crispatus have genome sizes ranging from 1.83 to 2.7 Mb, or 1,839 to 2,688 open reading frames. Lactobacillus contains a wealth of compound microsatellites in the coding region of the genome, which are imperfect and have variant motifs. Many lactobacilli also contain multiple plasmids. A recent study has revealed that plasmids encode the genes which are required for adaptation of lactobacilli to the given environment.
The genus Lactobacillus currently contains 44 species which are adapted to vertebrate hosts or to insects. In recent years, other members of the genus Lactobacillus (formerly known as the Leuconostoc branch of Lactobacillus) have been reclassified into the genera Atopobium, Carnobacterium, Weissella, Oenococcus, and Leuconostoc. The Pediococcus species P. dextrinicus has been reclassified as a Lapidilactobacillus dextrinicus  and most lactobacilli were assigned to Paralactobacillus or one of the 23 novel genera of the Lactobacillaceae. Two websites inform on the assignment of species to the novel genera or species (http://www.lactobacillus.uantwerpen.be/; http://www.lactobacillus.ualberta.ca/).
|Genus||Meaning of the genus name||Properties of the genus|
|Lactobacillus||Rod-shaped bacillus from milk||Type species: L. delbrueckii.
Homofermentative with strain-specific ability to ferment pentoses, thermophilic, vancomycin-sensitive, adapted to vertebrate or insect hosts.
|Holzapfelia||Wilhelm Holzapfel’s lactobacilli||Type species: H. floricola.
Homofermentative, vancomycin sensitive, unknown ecology but likely host-adapted.
|Amylolactobacillus||Starch degrading lactobacilli||Type species: A. amylophilus.
Homofermentative, vancomycin sensitive, extracellular amylases are frequent, unknown ecology but likely host-adapted.
|Bombilactobacillus||Lactobacilli from bees and bumblebees||Type species: B. mellifer.
Homofermentative, thermophilic, vancomycin resistant, small genome size, adapted to bees and bumblebees
|Companilactobacillus||Companion-lactobacillus, growing in association with other lactobacilli in cereal, meat and vegetable fermentations||Type species: C. alimentarius.
Homofermentative with strain- or species specific ability to ferment pentoses, vancomycin resistant, unknown ecology, likely nomadic
|Lapidilactobacillus||Lactobacilli from stones||Type species: L. concavus.
Homofermentative with strain- or species specific ability to ferment pentoses, vancomycin resistant, unknown ecology.
|Agrilactobacillus||Lactobacilli from fields||Type species: A. composti.
Homofermentative, aerotolerant and vancomycin resistant. Genome size, G+C content of the genome and the source of the two species suggest a free-living lifestyle of the genus.
|Schleiferilactobacillus||Karl Heinz Schleifer’s lactobacilli||Type species: S. perolens.
Homofermentative, vancomycin resistant, aerotolerant. Schleiferilactobacillus spp. have a large genome size, ferment a wide range of carbohydrates, and spoil beer and dairy products by copious production of diacetyl.
|Loigolactobacillus||(Food) spoiling lactobacilli||Type species: L. coryniformis.
Homofermentative, vancomycin resistant, mesophilic or psychrotrophic organisms.
|Lacticaseibacillus||Lactobacilli related to cheese||Type species: L. casei.
Homofermentative, vancomycin resistant; many species ferment pentoses, and are resistant to oxidative stress. L. casei and related species have a nomadic lifestyle.
|Latilactobacillus||Wide-spread lactobacilli||Type species: L. sakei.
Homofermentative, mesophilic free living and environmental lactobacilli. Many strains are psychrotrophic and grow below 8 °C.
|Dellaglioa||Franco Dellaglio’s lactobacilli||Type species: D. algidus.
Homofermentative, vancomycin resistant, aerotolerant and psychrophilic.
|Liquorilactobacillus||Lactobacilli from liquor or liquids||Type species: L. mali.
Homofermentative, vancomycin resistant, motile organisms growing in liquid, plant-associated habitats. Many liquorilactobacilli produce EPS from sucrose and degrade fructans with extracellular fructanases.
|Ligilactobacillus||Uniting (host adapted) lactobacilli||Type species: L. salivarius.
Homofermentative, vancomycin resistant, most ligilactobacilli are host adapted and many strains are motile. Several strains of Ligilactobacillus express urease to withstand gastric acidity.
|Lactiplantibacillus||Lactobacilli related to plants||Type species: L. plantarum.
Homofermentative, vancomycin resistant organisms with a nomadic lifestyle that ferment a wide range of carbohydrates; most species metabolise phenolic acids by esterase, decarboxylase and reductase activities. L. plantarum expresses pseudocatalase and nitrate reductase activities.
|Furfurilactobacillus||Lactobacilli from bran||Type species: F. rossiae.
Heterofermentative, vancomycin resistant, with large genome size, broad metabolic potential and unknown ecology.
|Paucilactobacillus||Lactobacilli fermenting few carbohydrates||Type species: P. vaccinostercus.
Heterofermentative, vancomycin resistant, mesophilic or psychrotrophic, aerotolerant, most strains ferment pentoses but not disaccharides.
|Limosilactobacillus||Slimy (biofilm-forming) lactobacilli||Type species: L. fermentum.
Heterofermentative, thermophilic, vancomycin resistant with two exceptions, Limosilactobacillus species are vertebrate host adapted and generally form exopolysaccharides from sucrose to support biofilm formation in the upper intestine of animals.
|Fructilactobacillus||Fructose-loving lactobacilli||Type species: F. fructivorans.
Heterofermentative, vancomycin resistant, mesophilic, aerotolerant, small genome size. Fructilactobacilli are adapted to narrow ecological niches that relate to insects, flowers, or both.
|Acetilactobacillus||Lactobacilli from vinegar||Type species: A. jinshani.
Heterofermentative, vancomycin resistant, grow in the pH range of 3 – 5; fermenting disaccharides and sugar alcohols but few hexoses and no pentoses.
|Apilactobacillus||Lactobacilli from bees||Type species: A. kunkeei.
Heterofermentative, vancomycin resistant, small genome size, fermenting only few carbohydrates, adapted to bees and / or flowers.
|Levilactobacillus||(Dough)-leavening lactobacilli||Type species: L. brevis.
Heterofermentative, vancomycin resistant, mesophilic or psychrotrophic, metabolise agmatine, environmental or plant-associated lifestyle.
|Secundilactobacillus||Second lactobacilli, growing after other organisms depleted hexoses||Type species: S. collinoides.
Heterofermentative, vancomycin resistant, mesophilic or psychrotrophic, environmental or plant-associated lifestyle. Adapted to hexose-depleted habitats, most strains do not reduce fructose to mannitol but metabolize agmatine and diols.
|Lentilactobacillus||Slow (growing) lactobacilli||Type species: L. buchneri.
Heterofermentative, vancomycin resistant, mesophilic, fermenting a broad spectrum of carbohydrates. Most lentilactobacilli are environmental or plant-associated, metabolise agmatine and convert lactate and / or diols. L. senioris and L. kribbianus form an outgroup to the genus; both species were isolated from vertrebrates and may transition to a host-adapted lifestyle.
The female genital tract is one of the principal colonisation sites for human microbiotic, and there is interest in the relationship between the composition of these bacteria and human health, with a domination by a single species being correlated with general welfare and good outcomes in pregnancy. In around 70% of women, a Lactobacillus species is dominant, although that has been found to vary between American women of European origin and those of African origin, the latter group tending to have more diverse vaginal microbiota. Similar differences have also been identified in comparisons between Belgian and Tanzanian women.
Interactions with other pathogens
Lactobacilli produce hydrogen peroxide which inhibits the growth and virulence of the fungal pathogen Candida albicans in vitro and in vivo. In vitro studies have also shown that lactobacilli reduce the pathogenicity of C. albicans through the production of organic acids and certain metabolites. Both the presence of metabolites, such as sodium butyrate, and the decrease in environmental pH caused by the organic acids reduce the growth of hyphae in C. albicans, which reduces its pathogenicity. Lactobacilli also reduce the pathogenicity of C. albicans by reducing C. albicans biofilm formation. Biofilm formation is reduced by both the competition from lactobacilli, and the formation of defective biofilms which is linked to the reduced hypha growth mentioned earlier. On the other hand, following antibiotic therapy, certain Candida species can suppress the regrowth of lactobacilli at body sites where they cohabitate, such as in the gastrointestinal tract.
In addition to its effects on C. albicans, Lactobacillus sp. also interact with other pathogens. For example, Limosilactobacillus reuteri (formerly Lactobacillus reuteri) can not inhibit the growth of many different bacterial species by using glycerol to produce the antimicrobial substance called reuterin. Another example is Ligilactobacillus salivarius (formerly Lactobacillus salivarius), which interacts with many pathogens through the production of salivaricin B, a bacteriocin.
Fermentive bacteria like lactic acid bacteria (LAB) produce hydrogen peroxide which protects themselves from oxygen toxicity. The accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in growth media, and its antagonistic effects on Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas, have been demonstrated by researchers. LAB cultures have been used as starter cultures to create fermented foods since the beginning of the 20th century. Elie Metchnikoff won a nobel prize in 1908 for his work on LAB.
Lactobacilli administered in combination with other probiotics benefits cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), although the extent of efficacy is still uncertain. The probiotics help treat IBS by returning homeostasis when the gut microbiota experiences unusually high levels of opportunistic bacteria. In addition, lactobacilli can be administered as probiotics during cases of infection by the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter pylori is linked to cancer, and antibiotic resistance impedes the success of current antibiotic-based eradication treatments. When probiotic lactobacilli are administered along with the treatment as an adjuvant, its efficacy is substantially increased and side effects may be lessened. Also, lactobacilli are used to help control urogenital and vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV). Lactobacilli produce bacteriocins to suppress pathogenic growth of certain bacteria, as well as lactic acid and H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide). Lactic acid lowers the vaginal pH to around 4.5 or less, hampering the survival of other bacteria, and H2O2 reestablishes the normal bacterial microbiota and normal vaginal pH. In children, lactobacilli such as Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus (previously L. rhamnosus) are associated with a reduction of atopic eczema, also known as dermatitis, due to anti-inflammatory cytokines secreted by this probiotic bacteria. In addition, lactobacilli with other probiotic organisms in ripened milk and yogurt aid development of immunity in the mucous intestine in humans by raising the number of LgA (+).
Some lactobacilli have been associated with cases of dental caries (cavities). Lactic acid can corrode teeth, and the Lactobacillus count in saliva has been used as a "caries test" for many years. Lactobacilli characteristically cause existing carious lesions to progress, especially those in coronal caries. The issue is, however, complex, as recent studies show probiotics can allow beneficial lactobacilli to populate sites on teeth, preventing streptococcal pathogens from taking hold and inducing dental decay. The scientific research of lactobacilli in relation to oral health is a new field and only a few studies and results have been published. Some studies have provided evidence of certain Lactobacilli which can be a probiotic for oral health. Some species, but not all, show evidence in defense to dental caries. Due to these studies, there have been applications of incorporating such probiotics in chewing gum and lozenges. There is also evidence of certain Lactobacilli that are beneficial in the defense of periodontal disease such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Lactobacilli comprise most food fermenting lactic acid bacteria  and are used as starter cultures in industry for controlled fermentation in the production of wine, yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, beer, cider, kimchi, cocoa, kefir, and other fermented foods, as well as animal feeds and the bokashi soil amendment. Lactobacillus species are dominant in yoghurt, cheese, and sourdough fermentations. The antibacterial and antifungal activity of lactobacilli relies on production of bacteriocins and low molecular weight compounds that inhibits these microorganisms.
Sourdough bread is made either spontaneously, by taking advantage of the bacteria naturally present in flour, or by using a "starter culture", which is a symbiotic culture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria growing in a water and flour medium. The bacteria metabolize sugars into lactic acid, which lowers the pH of their environment, creating a signature "sourness" associated with yogurt, sauerkraut, etc.
In many traditional pickling processes, vegetables are submerged in brine, and salt-tolerant lactobacilli feed on natural sugars found in the vegetables. The resulting mix of salt and lactic acid is a hostile environment for other microbes, such as fungi, and the vegetables are thus preserved—remaining edible for long periods.
Lactobacilli, especially pediococci and L. brevis, are some of the most common beer spoilage organisms. They are, however, essential to the production of sour beers such as Belgian lambics and American wild ales, giving the beer a distinct tart flavor.
- Lactobacillus L. anticaries
- Lactic acid fermentation
- MRS agar
- Carbon monoxide-releasing molecules
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Lactobacillus spp. convert tryptophan to indole-3-aldehyde (I3A) through unidentified enzymes . Clostridium sporogenes convert tryptophan to IPA , likely via a tryptophan deaminase. ... IPA also potently scavenges hydroxyl radicals
Table 2: Microbial metabolites: their synthesis, mechanisms of action, and effects on health and disease
Figure 1: Molecular mechanisms of action of indole and its metabolites on host physiology and disease
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IPA metabolism diagram
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Indole-3-propionate (IPA), a deamination product of tryptophan formed by symbiotic bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of mammals and birds. 3-Indolepropionic acid has been shown to prevent oxidative stress and death of primary neurons and neuroblastoma cells exposed to the amyloid beta-protein in the form of amyloid fibrils, one of the most prominent neuropathologic features of Alzheimer's disease. 3-Indolepropionic acid also shows a strong level of neuroprotection in two other paradigms of oxidative stress. (PMID 10419516) ... More recently it has been found that higher indole-3-propionic acid levels in serum/plasma are associated with reduced likelihood of type 2 diabetes and with higher levels of consumption of fiber-rich foods (PMID 28397877)
Origin: • Endogenous • Microbial
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[Indole-3-propionic acid (IPA)] has previously been identified in the plasma and cerebrospinal fluid of humans, but its functions are not known. ... In kinetic competition experiments using free radical-trapping agents, the capacity of IPA to scavenge hydroxyl radicals exceeded that of melatonin, an indoleamine considered to be the most potent naturally occurring scavenger of free radicals. In contrast with other antioxidants, IPA was not converted to reactive intermediates with pro-oxidant activity.
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In addition, GI fungal infection is reported even among those patients with normal immune status. Digestive system-related fungal infections may be induced by both commensal opportunistic fungi and exogenous pathogenic fungi. ...
In vitro, bacterial hydrogen peroxide or organic acids can inhibit C. albicans growth and virulence61
In vivo, Lactobacillus sp. can inhibit the GI colonisation and infection of C. albicans62
In vivo, C. albicans can suppress Lactobacillus sp. regeneration in the GI tract after antibiotic therapy63, 64
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- Data related to Lactobacillus at Wikispecies
- List of species of the genus Lactobacillus
- Lactobacillus at Milk the Funk Wiki
- Lactobacillus at BacDive - the Bacterial Diversity Metadatabase